Darcy is one of the wealthiest people in Jane Austen’s novel. He is very proud, sometimes haughty, and makes apparent his view of class differences in the beginning of the novel. His rejection to dance with Elizabeth at the ball in Meryton is the first instance of these qualities. “She is tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt me; and I am in no humour at present to give consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men. You had better return to your partner and enjoy her smiles, for you are wasting your time with me.” (13). This quote shows how Darcy considers the people of Meryton, particularly Elizabeth, to be his social inferiors. He also says this quote within Elizabeth’s hearing which establishes a negative first impression in Elizabeth’s mind that remains for almost half the novel, until the hidden good nature of his character is revealed to her. Darcy eventually comes to be attracted to Elizabeth by her quick wit, sharp tongue, and intelligence.
Darcy eventually proposes to Elizabeth in this next quote. “In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.” Elizabeth’s astonishment was beyond expression. She stared, coloured, doubted, and was silent. This he considered sufficient encouragement, and the avowal of all that he felt and had long felt for her, immediately followed. He spoke well, but there were feelings besides those of the heart to be detailed, and he was not more eloquent on the subject of tenderness than of pride. His sense of her inferiority—of its being a degradation—of the family obstacles which judgment had always opposed to inclination, were dwelt on with a warmth which seemed due to the consequence he was wounding, but was very unlikely to recommend his suit.” (213). This quote to Elizabeth from Darcy indicates how his feelings towards her have changed since the beginning of the novel, but in the same time he uses most of his proposal to emphasize her lower rank and how she is unsuitable for marriage to him than he does proclaiming his love. Darcy eventually learns to prioritize love over his sense of superiority to be worthy of Elizabeth’s affection.
Darcy’s character changes toward the end of the novel. “They gradually ascended for half a mile, and then found themselves at the top of a considerable eminence, where the wood ceased, and the eye was instantly caught by Pemberley House, situated on the opposite side of a valley, into which the road with some abruptness wound. It was a large, handsome, stone building, standing well on rising ground, and backed by a ridge of high woody hills;—and in front, a stream of some natural importance was swelled into greater, but without any artificial appearance. Its banks were neither formal, nor falsely adorned. Elizabeth was delighted. She had never seen a place where nature had done more, or where natural beauty had been so little counteracted by an awkward taste. They were all of them warm in her admiration; and at that moment she felt that to be mistress of Pemberley might be something!” (273 – 274). This quote describes Elizabeth’s arrival to Darcy’s estate. The initial description of his estate serves as a symbol of Darcy’s character. The “stream of natural importance” represents Darcy’s pride, but because the stream lacks “any artificial appearance” and is neither “formal, nor falsely adorned” shows his basic honesty.
Elizabeth finds more out about Darcy later in the novel from his housekeeper Mrs. Reynolds. “But I have always observed that they who are good-natured when children, are good-natured when they grow up; and he was always the sweetest-tempered, most generous-hearted boy in the world.” (278).. Elizabeth doesn’t believe that the housekeeper is talking about Darcy at first but Mrs. Reynolds reassures her that she is. Darcy has kept this side of him secret from everyone except his housekeeper. This is where Elizabeth deepens her love for Darcy, eliminating her previous prejudices from Darcy’s excess of pride.